The PM’s roadmap out of lockdown will also allow after-school sport and clubs to resume as well as outdoor meet-ups with a friend
All schools within England will be reopening to all pupils on the 8th of March under the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of the nationwide lockdown to be announced today, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also being allowed to restart.
And on the same date in March, outdoor recreation with one other person will also now be allowed, meaning that people will be allowed to sit together in a park with a coffee, drink or picnic.
From the 29th of March, larger groups will be permitted to meet outside, including within private gardens, up to a maximum of six people or people from two different households.
Tennis courts, as well as golf courses and other outdoor sport facilities will also reopen on the 29th of March, which is the first Monday of most of the schools’ Easter holidays.
This comes after parents of secondary school pupils within England will be required to test their children for the coronavirus twice a week once schools return, it has been reported. According to the Daily Telegraph, they will have to use rapid lateral flow tests under government plans to reopen schools as the COVID-19 lockdown is eased.
At the same time, organised sport for both adults and children, including grassroots football, will also be able to restart.
The easing of measures is the first stage in a four-part roadmap expected to include the reopening of the country’s non-essential retail shops, as well as hospitality in the next few months.
But restrictions will be relaxed step-by-step across the whole of the country, avoiding a return to the previous system for regional coronavirus tiers.
Boris Johnson is set to announce his plan in the House of Commons this afternoon, before leading a Downing Street press conference at 7pm. MPs will be voting on the regulations in the coming weeks.
Mr Johnson is expected to stress the fact that to progress to each stage, four tests must be passed:
- The vaccination deployment programme successfully continues.
- Evidence shows that the vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and fatalities in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates of COVID-19 do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure upon the NHS.
- Our assessment of the risks of the virus is not fundamentally changed by new coronavirus variants of concern.
In a statement ahead of the announcement, Mr Johnson said: “Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.”
This comes after rapid testing for COVID-19 could enable nightclubs and theatres in the UK to reopen, the Prime Minister has suggested. Boris Johnson has said that rapid testing using lateral flow COVID-19 tests could be used by “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”.
These new plans have already brought upon mixed reactions, with scientists and health workers in the UK urging the government not to ease the lockdown restrictions too quickly.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that there should not be incentives for people to start mixing in groups, arguing that the pressure on UK hospitals is currently “as bad as at any point last year”.
“The UK government must not relax public messaging or implement incentives for people to mix in groups. We have seen how mixed messages can directly result in increased pressure on the health and care system,” said Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive and general secretary.